Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

National Gallery staff walk out in pay dispute

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London
Union wants the minimum wage to be raised by 60p an hour

Staff members at the National Gallery in central London have walked out for the second time in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union walked out for two hours from 1200 GMT to protest against their £7-an-hour basic pay rate.

The union wants a 60p rise in basic pay to be at par with the London "living wage" of £7.60 an hour.

The National Gallery said it "cannot afford" to increase pay. The gallery remained open during the strike.

Staff members had also walked out over the pay dispute on 16 February.

'Angry and betrayed'

The second strike comes ahead of opening of the Delaroche and Lady Jane Grey exhibition on Wednesday.

Previously the union's general secretary Mark Serwotka said staff felt "angry and betrayed" about working 50 to 60-hour weeks and "having to take second jobs to earn a living wage".

Mr Serwotka called for the management to reopen talks and offer a "decent living wage".

A National Gallery statement said it "cannot afford" to increase staff pay, saying it was "in a very difficult financial climate".

Last May London Mayor Boris Johnson set the London Living Wage at £7.60 an hour, the minimum recommended wage for employees working in the capital.

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